Tampa Bay area veteran dies after waiting over 1 year to receive first VA payment

8 On Your Side

WINTER HAVEN, Fla (WFLA) – Captain Norman Jackson was honored to serve his country but when it was time for Veterans Affairs to help him, he faced months of delays.

Jackson, a Winter Haven resident, needed what the VA calls aid and attendance to pay for an assisted living facility, according to his daughter Melissia Pletcher.

“It was costing more for him to live there than he was getting in social security and pension,” Pletcher said.

It was April of 2019 when Pletcher began helping her father navigate through the government paperwork.

“I did get some help from the VA,” she said. “But at times, they would send me the same things over and over over again.”

In November, she received a letter that stated her father was entitled to “a special monthly pension based on the need for aid and attendance.”

“Nope,” she said when asked if the payments started after that. “Another delay.”

By the time Jackson got his first payment, he was 87 and near the end of his life. It brought up a claim made about the VA by many veterans; Delay, deny until you die.

“I think that happened in my father’s case,” Pletcher said. “I do because he got June and July and he died in August.”

Later that month, the VA sent Jackson a letter informing him he would be receiving help to create a fiduciary as in someone to be responsible for his accrued benefits.

“It’s dated August 17th,” Pletcher said. “And he died on August 7th.”

Pletcher, who was going to be the fiduciary, said at that point the VA told her she needed to fill out additional paperwork.

“I had already filled it out,” Pletcher said.

The VA has yet to respond to questions about how common these types of delays are and what causes them.

Pletcher said the process was especially frustrating considering how much her family has given to the military.

“My father loved his country and every man in his family served,” she said. “That long for two months of benefits he was entitled to? I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I worked so long and hard on this.”

Pletcher her father died, Pletcher said she was told by the VA that the agency would work with her on recovering the accrued benefits for her. About four months later, she was told the benefits were denied.

She had the right to appeal but said she was worn out by the process and does not believe she can do it without the help of her parents’ estate attorney.

“You saw all the paperwork I had and I just wanted to cry many days because I was over my head,” Pletcher said. “I am tired and have just given up.”  

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